ONE DAY a group of journalists ‘forcibly’ took over the management of the Kashmir Press Club, allegedly with the help of the police, the main body of journalists called it an ‘armed takeover’ and demanded the return of the previously elected body and early elections to the club.
The Editor’s Guild of India (EGI), Press Club of India and Mumbai Press Club have also criticized the J&K administration for trying to scuttle the election by suspending its re-registration.
“The Editors Guild of India is appalled at the manner in which the office and management of the Kashmir Press Club, the largest association of journalists in the valley, were forcibly taken by a group of journalists with the help of armed police on January 15, 2022,” the Guild said in a statement on Sunday. “The Guild is also alarmed by an arbitrary order to put the registration of the Kashmir Press Club ‘on hold’, a day before this armed takeover of the Club, on January 14, 2022, by the Registrar of Companies.”
On Saturday, a group of journalists burst into the club’s offices in Srinagar and took over. As they entered the club, a large deployment of police and paramilitaries were deployed outside the club.
Calling it an “armed takeover”, the Guild called for the immediate restoration of the status quo.
The Press Club of India called the takeover an attempt to “derail the democratic process” of the journalist corps. “Reports emanating from Srinagar on Saturday are cause for concern and distress as a faction of journalists took over the club with the backing of the local administration amid a massive police deployment in the inside and outside the premises of the Kashmir Press Club,” he said in his statement. .
Condemning the incident, the Mumbai Press Club criticized the J&K administration for attempting to scuttle the club’s election process.
“This order (suspending re-registration) effectively put the entire body of 300 member journalists in cold storage and canceled the democratically called electoral process,” he said. “That was not enough, the following day, Saturday January 15, taking advantage of the announced Covid lockdown for Srinagar, a group of journalists burst into the premises of the Press Club… and declared themselves to be an interim body.